Places that Matter
Alhambra Supper Club (site of)
Place Matters Profile
The Alhambra, which opened in the early 1950s, was a small bar located across the street from the Hunts Point Palace. Because of its size, bandleaders couldn’t bring in a large orchestra but would play with smaller, five- to six-piece bands. After a gig at the Hunts Point Palace it was common for musicians to go to the Alhambra to hang out with other musicians, providing opportunities for some incredible spontaneous jam sessions. In the early 1960s the name of the club was changed to the Black Cat; today the site is an empty lot.
Sometimes an important moment in musical innovation is linked directly to a certain site, as the Alhambra is for the bandleader and timbalero, Orlando Marín. Marín recorded one of the earliest pachanga songs, Se te quemó la casa, after first playing it at the Alhambra. He remembers how he knew that the song would be a hit: “It starts with a thought and a feeling and then you see a reaction...Before I recorded it, I was at the Alhambra playing this song. There were a lot of good dancers in the audience. They loved it and they really got into it, and we had not even finalized an arrangement or anything. And we knew it was going to be a hit because you see the sentiment of the people.